Own Online Property In China? The Chinese Government Will Recognise It

Starting in May, Chinese netizens will soon be able to own and pass down online property as China launches its first virtual property notarisation services.

The legality of who owns online property, and what to do with online accounts if the players die or get e-divorced has long been a topic of interest in China. Last year, a woman sought access rights to her husband's QQ chat account after her husband passed away; her request was rejected by Tecent.

QQ is a highly popular instant messaging service in China. It is owned and operated by Chinese internet giant Tencent.

When she inquired as to why she wasn't allowed to gain access, it was discovered that QQ users do not "own" their QQ accounts, but instead have limited rights to use them. According to Tencent's terms and conditions for QQ, "the right to use an account belongs solely to the original applicant, and this right shall not be gifted, loaned, rented, transferred or sold."

Public outrage over the whole affair eventually pressured Tencent to allow the woman access to her husband's account; however, the question as to who owns online property was never answered.

Now to prevent such incidents again from happening, the Baoshan Shanghai Notary Office in Baoshan district Shanghai is launching a virtual account notary service beginning in May.

Currently, the Baoshan Shanghai Notary Office will only provide notary services to the Journey games operated by Giant Interactive. In an interview with Tencent Games, the office says that it expects to solve some of the problems regarding digital inheritances and to learn from the experience in order to expand its services.

我国首现虚拟帐号公证服务 获国家部门支持 [Tencent Game News Channel]

Photo: China Photos/AP

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    We never own anything anymore. Not even the games or movies we purchase.
    You own the physical disk... but not the content.

    This is the way things are now.

    We already did this before China, there are companies where you can set this up to wind down someone's 'online life' after they die.

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